It's generally a good idea to give your eyes and brain a rest once finished with the first draft of a manuscript. After blocking out the existence of my NaNoWriMo novel for 6 weeks now, this coming weekend is the one I've designated to finally pick it back up again.
Editing, is easy to get lost in. If you don't have a good project management plan, you can loose sight of the forest because of the trees. In order to psych myself up for this behemoth task, I gave myself a little refresher course in the basics of editing...like where in the world I should beginning. I started by listing what I know. These are snippets from things I learned in grade school, a writing class I took a while ago, and first hand in the trenches:
- During the first editing pass, read for content. During the second editing pass, read line by line for style.
- Read the story to yourself out loud (something I like to do during the first editing pass). What looks good on the page may not sound good to your ear. Verbalizing your prose will help you identify any awkward text.
- When editing by hand (this is something I like to do during the second editing pass) print a copy of your work double spaced. That way you'll have room for corrections and notes in between each line
- Something we called ratiocinating in 7th grade. Count up all the occurrences of the following "am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been" and contractions that include these (i.e. I'm, you're, etc.). Then go through your manuscript and reduce these occurrences by half. This will help you avoid passive sentences. Back in school, we were told it will make for a stronger "voice".
- If a scene/action/sentence doesn't in some way lent some value to the story, get rid of it. Superfluous = Bad.
- Try to get rid of excessive occurrences of the word "said" when used to introduce dialogue.
On Friday, with my manuscript and these basic points of editing, I'm going to take a deep cleansing breath and begin the first editing pass.
Editing can be a "black box" of sorts. You don't exactly know what you will need until you get into it. So, how do you like to edit? What tips and tricks do you apply to develop a masterpiece out of the block of marble that is your manuscript?